Kobe Bryant had one of the final scoring explosions of his NBA career, going for 38 points on 10-21 shooting in the 51st game of his 82 game swan song. It was Bryant's season-high in terms of scoring, and one of the handful of nights this season he has looked not just "good for a 37-year old," but "legitimately good for any NBA player," and it left one of his young teammates particularly impressed.
"It was just another Mamba moment to add to the collection," Russell told Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation after the game. "[There] should be a museum of just Mamba moments." Something tells me if D'Angelo wanted to build one, that's the type of off the court business venture that could do very well in the Los Angeles area.
Russell wasn't the only young Laker enamored with Bryant on Tuesday night. Julius Randle was also amazed by Bryant scoring 14 of the Lakers final 18 points in the close win:
Julius Randle on Kobe Bryant: " Some of the shots, it's just like how do you make it? Pretty unbelievable." #Lakers— Bob Garcia IV (@bgarcia90) February 3, 2016
Bryant's opponents on the night were similarly in awe:
Ricky Rubio on Kobe Bryant: "He's one of the best to play this game and you've got to admire that kind of talent and passion for the game."— Bob Garcia IV (@bgarcia90) February 3, 2016
Karl-Anthony Towns on Kobe Bryant: "You can talk about all the great games he'sh had, and that may be something that we'll never see again."— Bob Garcia IV (@bgarcia90) February 3, 2016
Andrew Wiggins, who went toe-to-toe with Bryant for the majority of the fourth quarter, had the highest praise for the retiring legend:
Andrew Wiggins on Kobe Bryant: "It's always good playing against him. He always brings it every night, he makes tough shots, he,just Kobe."— Bob Garcia IV (@bgarcia90) February 3, 2016
Bryant reciprocated the love from the future star:
Asked Kobe Bryant about guarding Andrew Wiggins, and he smiled when talking about his turnaround: "It was textbook" pic.twitter.com/CdWHSPxjn5— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) February 3, 2016
Bryant also shared his philosophy on how he is giving back to the next generation of the NBA as his fades away:
Kobe Bryant: "But still. I find joy in teaching these young guys as much as I possibly can & showing up & playing as hard as I can." #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner) February 3, 2016
Kobe on Andrew Wiggins/young stars: "It's fun for me to be able to see how much of the game he added. It's a joy to watch their growth."— Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner) February 3, 2016
While some lament the "buddy-buddy" culture of the modern NBA, where players are friendlier with each other than they were in the nascent days of the league, it's hard not to enjoy listening to how much these younger players are relishing a chance to play with, against, and watch one of the greatest players ever, especially on a night when he shined so brightlyit led the opposing coach to say he "hates" him.
You can find this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.